Jeremy Lin will return to the scene where he became a pop-culture sensation, however briefly, on Monday night, as the Houston Rockets travel to Madison Square Garden to play the red-hot New York Knicks.
Much was said and written about Lin's unceremonious exit from New York, but there was little talk about what exactly Lin was going to bring to the Rockets. Everyone was up in arms about the Knicks letting this "superstar" leave for a meager $25 million over three years.
In the NBA, $25 million over three years for a point guard with 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game is a bargain.
But the Knicks were having none of it, so Lin did what any athlete would do and took the best offer on the table. It was at that precise moment when the hatred of Knicks fans and basketball analysts everywhere unleashed hell on James Dolan, similar to the way they did when the team was a laughingstock during the Isaiah Thomas era.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that the Knicks were upset with some of the things Lin was doing behind their backs.
Of course, team officials privately felt that Lin’s actions over the past few weeks were anything but grateful. They were upset that he hired a publicist without their consent and were livid that the second-year point guard out of Harvard went back to the Rockets for more money.
All of the backlash that was coming out of New York has given way to hope and optimism, as the Knicks are the best team in the Eastern Conference with an 18-5 record, and Carmelo Anthony is playing at an MVP level.
Meanwhile, Lin and the Rockets are struggling to find themselves. They are just 11-12, fighting to hang with that cluster of teams in the middle of the Western Conference. Lin has been a complete mess, averaging 10.8 points, six assists and four rebounds per game.
Those sound like pretty good numbers on the surface for a point guard, but Lin is shooting just 39.5 percent from the field and also averages nearly three turnovers per game.
What was supposed to be a triumphant homecoming, not to mention a way to stick it to the Knicks' front office, has turned into a nightmare. Lin has had a game or two here and there where he looks like the player that Knicks fans remember, but they have been fleeting.
Returning to the scene where Lin made his name is going to end up being a sad reminder of what was and what currently is. The Knicks have moved onto bigger and better things, while Lin still doesn't look entirely comfortable in his new surroundings.
It is a harsh reality for any celebrity to face—that moment when the world no longer looks at you as special, rather a fallen idol who is clinging to what fame he used to have. Lin has gone from the cover of Time to being a low-level starting point guard in the NBA.
Going back to New York is going to make Lin's struggles with the Rockets even more pronounced, which is exactly what the Knicks' front office was hoping for when he left at the end of last season.